The Sad Truth About Working From Home Has Been Confirmed

If you're lucky enough to work from home during the pandemic, turns out there's a tradeoff for not having to commute to the office every day. New research from the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms what may be painfully obvious by this point: Working from home often means longer workdays. How much longer? Approximately 48.5 minutes, based on when the first and last emails of the day are sent.

"It is unclear if this increase in average workday span represents a benefit or drawback to employee well-being," write the researchers. "On one hand, the flexibility to choose one's working hours to accommodate household demands may empower employees by affording them some freedom over their own schedule. On the other hand, the change in work schedule may be a consequence of a blurred distinction between work and personal life, in which it becomes easy to overwork due to the lack of clear delineation between the office and home."

For anyone who's ever had to tend to an upset child during homeschooling or ventured out to pick up essentials in the middle of the day to avoid crowds, the ability to wrap up work a little bit later may be well worth it, but if you're feeling a blurring of the line between work life and home life, well, this research confirms you're probably not imagining it.

The one thing you need to do in order to reclaim your time

That being said, the blurred lines between work and home life can take their toll as the pandemic continues to drag on into the foreseeable future. One of the top ways to ensure you maintain balance? It's as simple as practicing some self-respect, according to advice from the Forbes Technology Council. Among the council's tips:

  • Stick to a schedule: This can include setting reminders to take breaks and communicating your hours off the clock, whether that's by blocking it off in your calendar or changing your status in Gmail or Slack. Signaling your own respect for your time will help others do the same.
  • Carve out a dedicated workspace: While the local coffee shop might not be an option at this time, claiming a room or creating an area in your home that's only for work ensures a physical separation that can encourage you to unplug when you step away. 
  • Dress to impress yourself: It's true that studies show what you wear can affect how you perform on the job. If you find your motivation lagging, trade in your PJs for that power suit that's been languishing in the back of your closet and see if you notice an uptick in your productivity.

By setting boundaries with yourself and others, you may find that working from home affords the flexibility needed to find peace of mind during these unprecedented times — making those longer days not so bad after all.